Operation "Night Light" Nabs Three Local Sex Offenders
GAINESVILLE- A University of Florida student and two other men from Gainesville have been busted in an online child sex sting.
The operation was called "nightlight" and it began last Thursday.
Detective David Tate said each undercover deputy sometimes gets more than 100 replies.
Most offenders sending vulgar messages and some even lewd pictures of themselves.
"It's terrifying to think that, that is happening in your community," said Anita Webster.
Webster of Gainesville is a mother of two.
Even though her children are 6 and 8 years old, she has already started talking to them about online safety.
"What happens if you get lost in your search on the computer and you end up on a website that you don't feel as comfortable?"
"I exit that place and ask for help," said her daughter.
Webster said she fears the thought of her children being targeted by a sex offender on the other side of the computer screen.
An over the weekend sex sting called operation night light proved some people here in Gainesville tried to meet up with children under the age of 17.
"We put our presence out there. We make it known who we are and these people come to us. We communicate with them and then they tell us what their intentions are.
They tell us what they plan on doing to the child," said Detective David Tate.
Tate with the Alachua County Sheriffs office said once the offender goes as far as meeting the child, they are then arrested.
"It's impossible to stereotype or to profile this type of person because they are all over society," said Tate.
The three men arrested and accused of traveling and planning to have a sexual encounter with a child.
Forty- year- old Richard Lee Ashcraft of Gainesville.
Twenty-three- year- old Benjamin Wade Parker who works at Gainesville Ice.
Twenty- year- old Lance Thomas Kriete.
Kriete is a student at the University of Florida and is part of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
The President of the Fraternity left us this statement:
"We were shocked, disappointed and saddened to learn yesterday of the alleged personal conduct of Lance Kriete."
While detectives crack down on sex offenders, parents should also play a role.
"Parents need to understand they need to have an open line of communication with their kids about their online presence. So that when they are approached and when they are solicide, they will go to their parents and their parents will report them," said Tate.
Webster hopes her open line of communication with her kids will stay with them until they pass their teenage years.
"The best thing we can do is give them good tools in there tool box and know what to do when the time comes," said Webster.
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